Fashion, Digital Technologies, and AI. Is the 2020 Pandemic Really Driving a Paradigm Shift?
Keywords:Covid-19, Fashion, Digital Technologies, Social Media, Artificial Intelligence
Is the COVID-19 pandemic going to force the fashion industry to rethink herself and push it to embrace digital technologies more massively than before? The answer is most likely “yes”, but the question is somewhat ill-posed. In fact, the fashion world, especially haute couture, has always been very keen to innovation and to digital technology. Even before the current situation, there have been experiments that encompass every part of the fashion ecosystem, including smarter supply chain and manufacturing, design of new materials, new ways of presenting fashion with digitally augmented shows. While other businesses are hardly learning that digital is the way to go, the fashion world seems to have found this insight a long time ago and has been a fertile field for digital applications for a long time. For example, the commercial model has already shifted from being centered around retailers to being heavily reliant on online shopping. Not only this, but we are also seeing an increasing number of so-called digital native fashion brands, that is brands designed from the ground up to be entities of the digital world. This new way of selling fashion has been leveraging big data for some years now. Nonetheless, the abrupt change in our life dictated by the global advent of COVID-19, with the measures taken to mitigate it, like quarantine for example, is most certainly having an further effect on this industry, at all levels, from haute couture to fast fashion, from big brands to small ones. Some few examples include big fashion shows,where dazzling set pieces and parties are no longer possible, replaced by internet live streams. Even big fairs are now hosted as online events,with many brands launching digital applications that allow customers to try clothes virtually. All this considered, while it is certainly true that what happened in 2020 has had the primary effect ofrelegating retail stores almost to mere warehouses,with the catastrophic possibility they can even disappear in the foreseeable future, yet we believe thatthe correct question to ask is whether this phenomenon has just started now or has simply accelerated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.In this paper, we favor this second hypothesis,and maintain that the current shift in the fashion industry practices and prioritiesfollow a trend started may years ago, that the spread of the virus has only emphasized.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Luca Casini, Marco Roccetti
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